Hellgate Static

from the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club



October 2008



Next meeting is October 13, 2008

At City Fire Station #4, 3011 Latimer St.

1900 local

























Hellgate Amateur Radio Club

P.O. Box 3811

Missoula, MT. 59806-3811

HARC Board of Directors

Club President, W4YMA, Bill Farrell at billfarrell@hotmail.com
Vice-president, AC7UZ, Lewis Ball at ac7uz@blackfoot.net

Treasurer, N7GE, Jerry Ehli at jehli@modernmachinery.com

Secretary, KE7IZG, Mike Leary at michael.leary@umontana.edu


HARC Meeting

September 8, 2008


Breakfast vote Lucky Strike vs Perkins – Lucky Strike passed

Tone or no tone on .04 repeater to cut down on interference

            Motion to tone voice repeaters with 88.5(04)

            Amended to 88.5 for all HARC repeaters

            Amended to have CTCSS on all repeaters 88.5

            Will accomplish after published in ARRL repeater     directory

            Motion passed as amended

            Look into voice id later


            Jerry not here

            $7,900 or so in bank

501c3 Incorporation paperwork in progress




            W7CCY equipment sale.

            Equipment at meeting. 

            Made over $400.

            WayneÕs equipment and WA7OPE equipment for     sale at next meeting

            Old generator sell as is (bought by Lewis)


            Signup for SkyWarn

            Net control for month          

                        10 Sept Eric

                        17 Sept Bill

                        24 Frank   

                        Oct 1st  Lewis                                   

                         8th Andy



Is Winter coming soon?  We had snow in the mountains around us yesterday morning.  Time to scramble and get that last antenna erected before the cold sets in.  I'd like to think we have another couple months of warm weather.

We lost a ham in the Kalispell area last week.  This was a non radio accident, and involved a fall from a ladder.  I canÕt emphasize enough for everyone to take extra caution in use of ladders.  Many severe injuries are incurred each year from careless use of ladders.  Learn not to over reach, set your ladder out far enough to have a safe work angle and firm support.  Try and avoid carrying tools in your pockets while working on a ladder.  These can cause serious injury in a fall.  I use a tool bucket equipped with a large hook for support at the working level.  Step ladders are the most dangerous because we use them more often then other types.  Always use caution and avoid a fall.

I've had some discussion with Sun Watcher, Tad Cook, K7RA about some lack of activity on our local star over the past two years.  Apparently, some folks are beginning to offer opinions on the possibility of a "Maunder Minimum" occurring in the next year or two, bringing along with it very cold Winters for the Northern Hemisphere.  Tad has researched this point of view and found that there are as many pundits on one side of the argument as there are on the other.  Some of those are qualified to comment and some, unfortunately are not.  The extended "flat spot" between cycle 23 and 24 has had many concerned.  But, for now, we have to wait and see what will happen.  The last minimum was in the 1700's and not well documented.  At that time, recognition of Sunspot activity
was minimal and so it's difficult to draw any parallels from that time to the present.  Some would like to tie Sunspot activity to Climatic changes, but there is at present, no evidence to support that theory.  In overall output, or "Irradiance", the Sun has varied less than 0.10 percent over many years.

We need to fill some additional State ARRL appointments.  Emergency coordinators are needed for many locations.  Please contact Todd, AE7V or myself for further information.  Also, a Section Technical Coordinator is needed.  You will need a working knowledge of today's systems, both digital and analog, and be able to work with members via email, phone or on a personal level.  This can be a challenging position, and requires research to solve some problems.  But, the rewards are many.  Contact this station if you'd like to apply.

Thanks to all who make Montana a great Section to represent!

Aug Net reports: MTN-W7MPK, QNI-1967, QTC-51 IMN-VE7AWG, QNI-487, QTC-54 MSN-K7YD, QNI-156, QTC-4
73 to all,
Doug, K7YD




New FEMA Training Course Essential: ESF #2 Communications
An apparently new FEMA on-line course covers the Emergency Support Function (ESF) #2 "Communications" of the National Response Framework (NRF). It is essential that all amateur emcomm operators understand all ESFs, but particularly ESF #2. All ESFs are central to the operations of any EOC. See http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS802.asp .

The NRF presents the guiding principles that enable all response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to
disasters and emergencies. It establishes a comprehensive, national, all-hazards approach to domestic incident response. The Framework defines the principles, roles, and structures that organize how we respond as a nation. It builds upon the National Incident Management System (NIMS) http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/index.shtm , which provides a consistent template for managing incidents. Information on the National Response Framework including Documents, Annexes, References and Briefings/Trainings can be accessed from the resource center http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nrf/ -- Thanks to Eagle-Eye David Coursey, N5FDL, EC San Joaquin County, California

Red Cross Policy Re Health and Welfare Traffic Clarified
This statement is from Keith Robertory, Disaster Service Technology Manager, American Red Cross, regarding Amateur Radio's role in Health and Welfare Traffic and the American Red Cross.

"There has recently been some posting on Amateur Radio discussion groups on the Internet that is carrying false or misleading
information. The Red Cross does not have a policy against amateur radio participating in passing health and welfare messages. In fact,
we recognize the importance of amateur radio in being a vital method for people to get registered.

"The American Red Cross welcomes the support of Amateur Radio Operators in connecting friends and family members together through our health and welfare programs. The grassroots, independent nature of Amateur Radio Operators in communities around the country make them well suited for this task.

"General welfare messages are processed through the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site. This site allows people to register their status, which can be checked by friends and family who search by your name, address or phone number. A quick look at the Web site
http://disastersafe.redcross.org will show how both the registration process and search are done.

"As few as two hams can set up an effective registration process. A ham located in the disaster zone can use any mode to transmit the
basic Safe and Well registration information to another ham located outside the disaster area who would enter the information on the Web site. This quick ad-hoc setup doesn't rely on any affiliations and can be established by a call out to another ham who can help.
"The Red Cross also processes welfare inquiry messages that contain specific medical information. These contain more sensitive and
personally identifiable information at the same time that the Red Cross keeps confidential to respect client privacy. We are researching if and how these messages can be passed across open frequencies, and what federal restrictions (such as HIPPA) may impact how this is done. Thank you. -- Keith Robertory, Disaster Service Technology Manager, American Red Cross, KG4UIR" Department of Homeland Security Interoperability Manual, New National Emergency Communications Plan

From the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC)—

The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) is a collection of technical reference material for radio technicians responsible for radios that will be used in disaster response applications. The NIFOG includes information from the National Interoperability Frequency Guide (NIFG), the instructions for use of the NIFG, and other reference material; formatted as a pocket-sized guide for radio technicians to carry with them. If you are not familiar with interoperability and mutual aid communications, start with the "How to Use the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide" section. We encourage you to program as many of these interoperability channels in your radios as possible. Even if geographic restrictions on some channels preclude their use in your home area, you may have the opportunity to help in a distant state where the restrictions do not apply. Maximize your flexibility." For a copy of the manual, see: http://www.npstc.org/documents/NIFOG%20v1.2%204-14-2008.pdf --
Thanks, Mark Conklin, N7XYO, Assistant SEC, Oklahoma

DHS has also recently released the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) to address gaps and determine solutions so that emergency response personnel at all levels of government and across all disciplines can communicate as needed, on demand, and as authorized.  The NECP is the nation's first strategic plan to improve emergency response communications, and complements overarching homeland security and emergency communications legislation, strategies and initiatives. More on the National Emergency Communications Plan: http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1217534334567.shtm and http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1217529182375.shtm . Thanks -- Les Rayburn, N1LF, Shelby County, Alabama EC



All three candidates at passed at the September 8 examination session.  More quick turn-around on license assignments (I turned in the exams Tuesday morning and the candidates were listed on the FCC data base that afternoon).   


Congratulations to new licensees, KE7VTF Shannon  and KE7VTG Isabel.  Also KE7TJP, Tom upgraded to General. 

Thanks to examiners  WG7E Elizabeth; WG7P Elmer; AC7UZ Lewis and K7PX Steve. 


73, Vick –K7VK




NVIS For Your club
Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) is a propagation mode which uses high angle radiation to send signals almost straight up to be reflected back to Earth for very effective short to medium haul communications.  NVIS uses a no skip zone making reliable
communications effective for a range out to 500 miles. No special equipment is required to create high angle radiation.  The NVIS
propagation mode works on frequencies below 10 MHz because these high angle radio waves are reflected back to Earth rather than absorbed by the atmosphere as with higher frequencies.  Often a low dipole is all that is needed to accomplish reliable communications within the no skip zone.  Because of the reliability of communicating within this range and no need for infrastructure or third party support such as repeaters or satellites, NVIS is an excellent choice for emergency communications and for staying in contact with friends in nearby locations.

NVIS is an excellent topic for a club meeting and clubs can get extra mileage from the NVIS topic by incorporating an antenna project and on air activities among the members.  The ARRL Multimedia Library has several Power Point programs that can be used by your club for meeting programs.  These programs are free to download and use at www.arrl.org/multimedia .

One of the programs in the library presents NVIS fundamentals, its advantages and techniques on how to deploy NVIS in the field.  Use this program at your club meeting as a presentation and discussion of the high angle propagation technique.
After members are knowledgeable about NVIS future meetings can incorporate a hands on project where club members build antennas to use for NVIS operation.  The multimedia library has a marvelous Power Point with a project for building a NVIS antenna for the 40, 60 and 80 meter amateur bands.  This program is well illustrated, easy to follow and uses readily available materials.  Because the NVIS technique is effective for short to medium distances club members can gather on the air and compare signals and other aspects of NVIS.

With all of the recent tropical storms and hurricanes in the Southeastern United States radio amateurs employed NVIS techniques to
get messages out of effected areas.  The propagation mode works well with SSB and with digital modes including Winlink 2000.  Because antennas for NVIS do not have to be mounted high, a complete antenna package including coax and support poles and antenna can be packed into a duffel bag ready to be deployed whenever and wherever needed.

If your club is looking for an informative and entertaining meeting program that can be expanded to other activities then try Near
Vertical Incidence Skywave.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++The ARRL Letter

September 26, 2008


On Sunday, September 21, Bob Williams, N7ODM, of Bozeman, Montana, was just tuning around on 40 meters, giving his rig a test just before a scheduled QSO with his brother Rich, K7URU, in Spokane, when he heard a faint CW signal around 1 PM (MDT): Glenn Russell Ruby Jr, W7AU, of Corvallis, Oregon had broken his leg and was using a portable radio and Morse code to send out a call for help. Williams said he was able to understand the injured man's code even when his signal became very weak.

"He called me. He must have heard me testing out the radio. When I finished, I signed off with my call, and then I heard, 'N7ODM, this is W7AU/7,' so I answered," Williams told the ARRL. "I told him to go ahead, I had solid copy. He told me that he was a hiker that had fallen and broken his leg. He identified himself as Russ, provided information as to his GPS coordinates, the shelter, food and water on hand, as well as his detailed physical condition. He told me exactly who I needed to contact for assistance."

According to Williams, Ruby had slipped on a wet rock and broken his leg while out hiking in the Buck Creek Pass area of the high Cascades in Western Washington, 600 miles away from Williams. "Russ really had his act together," Williams said. "Before he even called for help, he set up his tent. It was raining when he fell, so he climbed into his tent and got into some warm clothes and had a snack of sunflower seeds and dried apricots. After that, he strung up a wire antenna, fired up his Elecraft K1 and called me." Williams said that Ruby told him he had a "couple of weeks worth of battery power" for the radio.

Ruby asked Williams to notify the Snohomish County Search and Rescue in Washington State. "I didn't have their number, so I called my local 911 dispatcher. All they had was the info for King County in Washington, so I called them and they gave me the number for Snohomish. When I got a hold of Snohomish County Search and Rescue, they asked me to obtain additional info from Russ, such as the color of his tent and if he was in a clear or wooded area, and remain in contact with him as long as possible," Williams said.

"Russ and I were able to maintain contact until about 8 PM on Sunday, during which time I was able to pass additional traffic between Russ and Search and Rescue, but then his signal got so weak where I couldn't copy it anymore. Before he faded, we had agreed to try and make contact in the morning. I tried, starting around 6:30, but he never heard me. I finally heard him calling me around 9 on 7.051 MHz. We kept in contact until he was evacuated from the site by Search and Rescue at about 10:35 AM," Williams told the ARRL.

On Sunday, rescue crews reached Ruby, who had set up camp on Buck Creek Pass, at about 6000 feet just west of the Chelan County line. He was taken to safety Monday on horseback. Williams said that bad weather Sunday prevented a helicopter rescue: "It was snowing all night; Russ told me that when he woke up Monday morning, his tent was all covered in snow."

"I just happened to be at the same frequency," Williams said. "It's just a stroke of luck that turned out great. It was quite an experience. I'm just glad that he was a ham radio operator and that I was able to talk to him. It made the difference for him. What I did was not anything special. I'd like to think that any ham in Montana would've done the same thing."



Since 1984 we have administered nearly monthly examination sessions to 1063 candidates. 593 new licenses or upgrades have been issued in 214 exam sessions! The success rate is 56%. We administer examinations for both W5YI-VEC and ARRL-VEC.


The most commonly passed examination is Codeless Technician, 256; followed by Technician w/ 5wpm, 102; General, 112; Extra 60; Advanced, 42 and Novice 21.


Twenty-nine volunteer examiners have participated in our program.  Our current  active volunteer examiners include; K7BA, N7FMW, N7GE, W7GJ, N7MSU, K7PX, AC7UZ, K7VK, W7XY and WV7Z.  For additional information about the Hellgate ARC examination program or schedule, contact one of the many local volunteer examiners.



Well, looks like Summer is done here in the High Country.  With snow forecast for the upcoming weekend, we'll have some challenging conditions to deal with while traveling to and from the Bozeman Hamfest on the 11th.

Predictions are for a great attendance at the Hamfest, with tables being requested and filling up quickly.  The event has been growing in the past few years and the Bozeman club has put a tremendous amount of work into it.  Lots of used gear and parts, equipment and antennas. Hope to see you there.

We've just finished installation of 2m and 6m sideband antennas here at this station.  Hope to find some activity on those bands.  With
the Sun being a bit asleep of late, we havenÕt seen much propagation on the higher freqs this Summer.

Time to look at the survival gear in your vehicle.  Weather changes come suddenly here in Montana and it pays to be prepared for an extended stay in your outfit.  To get out and walk unprepared is to risk your life during a storm.  Every year, we hear of someone who started out walking and died before they were far from their vehicle.  Carry some extra clothes, blankets and most important, water.  A couple flashlights, and a shovel to clear your tail pipe.   If you become stuck, dig in and keep yourself warm, run the engine enough to warm the passenger area and wait it out.  If you require oral medications, a couple days supply in a Tupperware container might be a good idea.  Above all, keep your wits about you, take care of yourself and your those with you.

The beginning of Winter brings on "Driver Re-Education period" for us and those who travel through the state.  Turn on your brain and remember what it takes to drive safely in the snow.  Let the other guy make mistakes, slow down, stay right side up and out of the borrow ditch.

The Section Manager's job will be open first of next year.  I will be again running for election.  If you have interest in being SM, contact me and I'll help with the paperwork.  It's a rewarding job to represent the Montana Amateur Community.

As always, we need volunteers for several jobs in the State.  Many positions are open, from Technical Coordinator to Assistant Emergency coordinators.  Contact myself or Todd, AE7V for information.

September Net Reports: MTN-W7MPK, QNI-2044, QTC-68 IMN-VE7DWG, QNI-518, QTC-61 MTN-K7YD, QNI-144, QTC-4

Thanks and 73 to all
Doug, K7YD



Read my ham radio blog at http://www.kb6nu.com

by Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

I used to be skeptical of one-day ham radio classes, sometimes called "Ham Cram" classes. After teaching a couple of these classes over the past year, however, I've become a supporter of this method of teaching, at least for the Technician Class license test.

One reason I'm an advocate of the one-day class is that I think a lot of people "learn by doing." I'm not an expert on pedagogy, but my guess is that more people learn by doing than learn by reading or by listening. That being the case, isn't it a good thing that new hams get their licenses quickly so that they can begin doing--thereby learning--more quickly?

Second, people are busy. Tell them that the class is going to eat up one evening a week for six to eight weeks and a lot of them will tell you that they just don't have the time to do it. Squeezing in six to eight hours on a Saturday is, however, something that they can do.

Critics of the one-day classes say that if people just cram for the test, they may learn enough for just long enough to pass the test, but they really don't know enough to be "good hams," whatever that may be. There's some truth to this. It's important not to abandon them once they get their tickets. I encourage all of the students to join a ham radio club and make myself available to answer any questions they may have as they get started in ham radio.

Critics also say that releasing this horde on the amateur bands will create nothing but chaos. Fortunately, I've personally seen no evidence that the hundreds of folks that have taken these classes across the country have created said chaos.

Make Your Next Class a One-Day Class
I would encourage you to give this a try. Make your next Tech class a one-day class. You don't conduct Tech classes? Well, get started! Another benefit of the one-day class format is that it's easier to find teachers since it takes less time for them, too.

As I mentioned previously, over the past year, I've taught two "ham cram" classes. We've learned a few things along the way.

Perhaps the most important thing is to stress that students should study the material before coming to class. The study guide we use is one that I've written. You can find the KB6NU No-Nonsense Study Guide online at http://www.kb6nu.com. You can also purchase a pre-printed version of the study guide at www.booklocker.com/books/3408.html.

Another key is to not get bogged down on a particular topic. Our class runs from 9 am to 3 p.m., at which time, the VEs come in and give the test. To cover all of the material, you have to keep one eye on the clock and keep plowing ahead. To help you do this, a set of PowerPoint slides for teachers of Ham Cram Tech classes is available at http://w9pe.us/.

We conducted our first class last August. Nine out of twelve passed the test that day; the remaining three passed on their second attempt. In early May, we taught our second one-day class. This time, eleven out of twelve passed. In September, we held our third class and thirteen out of fourteen passed.

I am encouraged by these results, and I am planning to make these one-day classes a regularly-scheduled event here in Ann Arbor. Time will tell if these people become active, life-long hams, but so far, so good. If you have any questions about our experience with the one-day class, please e-mail me at cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

A couple of years ago, I decided to switch to the Mac for business use. (I am a freelance website developer.) I haven't regretted it for a second. The thing just seems to work better.

Last October, I decided to switch to a Mac in the shack and purchased used, iBook G4 Mac laptop. Unfortunately, I can't say that I've never regretted this move. The reason I sometimes regret this choice is that there just aren't as many ham radio programs available for the Mac as there are for the PC, and those that are available are either more expensive than their PC counterparts or don't work as well.

For example, let's take a look at logging programs. When I first started looking, I found one that was kind of expensive (MacLoggerDX -www.dogparksoftware.com/MacLoggerDX.html); one that was free, but didn't want to work so well (RUMLog - http://www.dl2rum.de/rumsoft/RUMLog.html);and one that worked OK and cost somewhere in between the first two (Aether- www.aetherlog.com/). Considering that there are at least a dozen logging programs that run on a PC, this was slim pickings.

I ended up purchasing Aether, but was never very happy with it. For one thing, it took forever to do any kind of sort or look up previous QSOs. Another pain was that it carried over none of the information from the previous contact, so you had to enter all of the information from scratch,even if you didnÕt change frequencies or bands. It also had an odd way of doing notes about a contact, and I was disappointed to find out that it didn't import the notes from the ADIF file I created from the N3FJP logging program I used previously.

For PSK, It's CocoaModem
I had much the same experience when looking for a PSK31 program. Instead of a the wide variety of PC PSK programs, I only found a couple of Mac programs that decode PSK. Fortunately, I am much happier with my choice here (cocoaModem - homepage.mac.com/chen/index.html ). It's a great program with a polished user interface, and it's free, to boot.

The only problem with cocoaModem is that it doesn't support the wide range of digital modes that some of the PC programs do. One I'm interested in is SSTV. Unfortunately, cocoaModem doesn't do SSTV.

A Happy Ending
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I'd had enough of Aether and decided to start searching for logging software again. Since RUMLog was still free, I decided to give the new version (v 3.0, March 15, 2008) a go. I'm happy to report that this version likes my computer a lot better, and I like using it a lot!

One of the coolest things is that it did import the notes from my N3FJP ADIF file properly. So, now, when I type in a callsign, the program searches the database, finds all the previous contacts I've had with that station, and then displays them in spreadsheet style WITH the notes. If I've taken notes about a previous conversation, I can pick up right where I left off. Very cool.

It also has a very nice way of showing you what countries you've worked, on what bands you've worked them, and whether or not you've QSLed that country or not. Not only that, it shows what type of QSL you have, either a paper QSL or a Logbook of the World (LOTW) QSL. And, after you supply your user ID and password, it will download your LOTW QSLs and update the appropriate QSO records. Very cool!

Still unresolved is what to use for contesting. None of the programs I've seen so far are useful for contesting, and I think that what I will end up doing is using my old PC laptop running N3FJP or N1MM software. I'm not a big contester, so I think I can live with that.

One thing is for sure--I'm not going back to the PC aside from some niche applications like contesting. The Mac's ease of use and ease of setup has won me over. For information on even more ham radio software for the Mac,go to www.machamradio.com.
When not trying to convince his friends and family to convert to the Mac,Dan works a lot of CW and PSK, and even a little SSB, on 20, 30, and 40m. You can read more about his adventures in amateur radio by pointing your Web browser to www.kb6nu.com.


September Brain Teaser Answer

by Pete Varounis Sr. - NL7XM/3


A bookkeeper noticed there were two consecutive double letters in the word balloon.  She found other examples, such as woolly and spittoon.  Then she tried to think of a word with three consecutive pairs of double letters.  She couldn't think of any.  Can you? -- BOOKKEEPER





We hope the HELLGATE STATIC was interesting for you this month.  Let us know if this newsletter is to your acceptance.  So far, IÕve only heard good things.  If there is something YOU would like to see, or that you feel is overdone, please let me know.  This is the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club newsletter, not mine!  If you have something (even a simple one-liner) please write to me at our address or e-mail me (Craig, KE7NO) at twincreek@blackfoot.net


Well, thatÕs it for this month.  Let me know what you thought about the above blog.  If you are interested, I will continue to check it out and get it out to you.  Let me know if you have anything to be put in the newsletter.